19-08 - 113 XIX Black Initiatives and White Reactions...

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XIX. Black Initiatives and White Reactions, 1980-2007 Overview The election of Ronald Reagan as president in 1980 signaled a triumph of conservatism. Unlike Nixon and Ford, the new occupant was an avowed conservative who promised a return to traditional values, and a reduction of government programs for social reform. Although the so-called “White Backlash” has been a continuing issue, African Americans have continued to make progress in a number of ways. Radical movements for change have not been as powerful as conservative movements to turn back the clock. But in the long run, these conservative movements are weaker, because there is no turning back. Along with evidence of Black progress has come evidence of ongoing problems. The achievements of African Americans in the fine and performing arts, and in many phases of popular culture were accompanied during the 1970s by trashy “blaxploitation” movies. During the eighties and nineties, rap music , which began as a legitimate expression of the street culture of working class African American youth, became invaded by a host of Black opportunists, aided by cynical, greedy White promoters, who promoted a culture of self-destruction. Film makers like Spike Lee and Marlon Riggs explored sensitive topics among Blacks people such as complexional discrimination and gender preferences. A group of novelists, mostly women, gain national reputations, and in 1991 Toni Morrison became the second African American (King being the first) to win a Nobel Prize, this time for Literature. Black conservatives such as Ward Connerly and Thomas Sowell have received attention from the mainstream media far out of proportion to their credibility in the communities which they claim to represent. Legitimacy was added to their viewpoint by the appointment by President George Bush in 1991 of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. Unfortunately, however, this philosophy is symptomatic of the growing socioeconomic and ideological cleavages among African Americans, as housing integration has allowed more affluent people to leave their less fortunate brothers and sisters behind in increasingly deteriorating neighborhoods. But the brand of conservatism which many Black observers find most perturbing is that of the ex-White liberals, who formerly supported the Black freedom struggle. Publications like the New Republic , which once praised Martin Luther King and 113
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the Civil Rights Movement, now systematically attack almost every aspect of the Black agenda, from affirmative action, to a fair trial for Kobe Byant, to the credibility of prominent Africans like Kofi Annan and Oprah Winfrey. A major target for conservatives has been affirmative action. Many people in the United States regard the enforcement of programs designed to uplift a particular group of people as artificial contrivances that violate the principles of individualism and free competition. With a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, many lawsuits have been mounted
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This note was uploaded on 11/08/2011 for the course HS 101 taught by Professor Jones during the Summer '10 term at Montgomery College.

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19-08 - 113 XIX Black Initiatives and White Reactions...

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